Tesla Force PS4 Review 10tons Ltd have taken more than a few leaves out of genius game designer Eugene Jarvis‘ book. Their recent succession of twin stick shooters each develop the retro brilliance of Jarvis’ very first twin stick shooter for Williams Robotron 2084 and its spiritual successors Smash TV and Total Carnage all of which impressed arcade goers in the 80s and early 90s.
Following on from 2018’s Tesla vs. Lovecraft comes Tesla Force, a game so similar in look and feel to its predecessor, it could almost be the same game with some DLC added. Is this a major ‘Harumph!’ or another dose of enjoyable relentless carnage filed under ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’? Read on and see, esteemed one….
Tesla Force PS4 Review
Two Sticks Are Better Than One
Left stick move, right stick fire is the simple mantra of 10tons’ retro-styled oeuvre, with a sprinkling of special moves to keep it fresh. These include a custom special attack triggered with L2, a teleport ability which jumps you forward in the direction you’re facing and the ability to switch weapons. Collectables also litter the scrolling play areas, including new weapons and special attacks to exchange for your currently selected ones, crystals and energy bars and parts for your mech which grants you a short period of immunity and splendid fire power.
Each of the three level maps is procedurally generated, and the map offers a choice of three or four randomly chosen mission stages such as ‘collect eight items’, ‘survive a heavy attack for 90 seconds’, ‘capture three flags’ and ‘destroy the statues’. Each stage is also procedurally generated but like the main map, there are very limited resources from which to create the levels so they’re all pretty similar and it doesn’t take long for the gameplay to become repetitive.
Starting in the foyer, once you’ve chosen your character from either Tesla or Curie (with Lovecraft and Shelley unlockable later on), you are very quickly transported to the map page where you choose the mission type. Then BAM! you’re in the action, first of all inside your all singing indestructible mech on a limited timer, and then going it alone against massive waves of Gauntlet-like wraiths, large trolls, and various other hellish creatures out for your blood.
Firepower is a problem to begin with; the slow firing pistol or shotgun against the hordes is a thankless task, with relentless deaths snapping you back to level one in a trice. You’ll therefore replay the same levels (albeit with minor procedurally generated differences) over and over again, but as you do this, you are slowly levelling up your gun, your abilities and your special weapons. This takes a fair bit of grinding, but it’s initially enjoyable grinding as you discover new bullet spraying pick-ups and learn some useful tactics to get you through the levels.
The Purple Blood Of The Damned
Once you’ve unlocked the big guns, you’ll easily be finishing the six or so levels on map one (Arkham) and unlocking the next (Farm) allowing you to return from the dead on map two. The environments look pretty much the same (drab green and brown) but there is a sprinkling of new foes and the difficulty ramps up, meaning you’ll need to grind the new map enough to level up. Despite the repetition, it’s pretty exhilarating once you’ve improved your firepower to the point that the screen is filled with your bullets and the blood of the damned.
At the peak of the action when the screen is crammed with bullets and creatures, the game still manages to keep a good frame rate throughout. No doubt the dreary simpistic backgrounds help to keep the frame rate high, but the developers really should have mixed things up a bit visually, as the gameplay is pretty much the same from dawn till dusk thanks to the roguelike progression system. That said, it’s good fun dipping in and out for some high octane creature smearing, and the four player local co-op also provides some shallow hi-jinks against even more beasts.
“They’ve Rebadged It You Fool!”
10tons have seemingly rebadged and tweaked their last game Tesla vs Lovecraft and any owners of that should steer clear as there’s simply not enough new content here and the gameplay is more or less identical.
Newbies who enjoy any kind of old school shoot-em-ups should definitely give it a try, particularly with a few friends on the same sofa (with at least 2m distance between you). The lack of variety was a bit of a sticking point and one which 10tons could have easily rectified, even with a more varied color scheme. A few more different mission types wouldn’t have hurt either, as I ended becoming extremely tired of the four on offer, often opting for the ones which were quickest to complete.
With any luck, the developers can also expand the levels next time, adding an element of exploration and discovery to the rather one-dimensional bullet storm in these more limited play areas. A missed opportunity to develop the series, but worth a punt if you want to switch off your brain and let your thumbs do the killing.
Review code supplied by 10tons.
Tesla Force is out now on PlayStation 4.